Go Small and Go Home: Tiny Theater Made in Quarantine

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From the 7th voyage of egon tichy.
Photo: Courtesy of Theater in Quarantine

If you are one of the lucky New Yorkers who has a closet, how exactly do you use it? Surely you’re not still just … hanging up clothes? To give you some inspiration: Theater director Joshua William Gelb emptied his closet, painted it white, and turned it into a four-by-eight-by-two-foot experimental theater for solo digital performance.

Gelb isn’t a dancer, but in his so-called Theater in Quarantine, he dances, bracing his body against the walls so he seems to fly; he isn’t an actor, but there he acts in plays about bunkers and spaceships and other such lonely places. Gelb’s YouTube channel has more than a dozen experimental works made in his cupboard-white box, including the 7th voyage of egon tichy, which premiered on Thursday. Adapted by Josh Luxenberg from Stanislaw Lem’s The Star Diaries story cycle and directed by Jonathan Levin, the 35-minute-long playlet imagines a solo astronaut who loses his wrench during a crucial repair and multiplies himself (via time vortex) to get another pair of hands. In the slapstick scenario, too many spacemen soon spoil the spaceship: Tichy’s Friday self wallops his Tuesday self over the head with a frying pan; there’s a three-Tichy scrum for the one pair of boots. The play is mostly an excuse for clowning, but wistfulness penetrates it. Imagine if all you dreamed of was other people, and then those other people — weren’t much help? I certainly make myself lonely; imagine how lonely I’d be if there were more of me.

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